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Revealed: The secret report that shows 
how the Nazis planned a Fourth Reich the EU 

By Adam Lebor 

Last updated at 10:30 PM on 09th May 2009 

The paper is aged and fragile, the typewritten letters slowly fading. But US Military 
Intelligence report EW-Pa 128 is as chilling now as the day it was written in November 

The document, also known as the Red House Report, is a detailed account of a secret 
meeting at the Maison Rouge Hotel in Strasbourg on August 10, 1944. There, Nazi 
officials ordered an elite group of German industrialists to plan for Germany 's post-war 
recovery, prepare for the Nazis' return to power and work for a 'strong German empire'. 
In other words: the Fourth Reich. 

Plotters: SS chief Heinrich Himmler with Max Faust, engineer with Nazi-backed 
company I. G. Farben 

The three-page, closely typed report, marked 'Secret', copied to British officials and sent 
by air pouch to Cordell Hull, the US Secretary of State, detailed how the industrialists 
were to work with the Nazi Party to rebuild Germany's economy by sending money 
through Switzerland. 

They would set up a network of secret front companies abroad. They would wait until 
conditions were right. And then they would take over Germany again. 

The industrialists included representatives of Volkswagen, Krupp and Messerschmitt. 
Officials from the Navy and Ministry of Armaments were also at the meeting and, with 
incredible foresight, they decided together that the Fourth German Reich, unlike its 
predecessor, would be an economic rather than a military empire - but not just German. 

The Red House Report, which was unearthed from US intelligence files, was the 
inspiration for my thriller The Budapest Protocol. 

The book opens in 1944 as the Red Army advances on the besieged city, then jumps to 
the present day, during the election campaign for the first president of Europe . The 
European Union superstate is revealed as a front for a sinister conspiracy, one rooted in 
the last days of the Second World War. 

But as I researched and wrote the novel, I realised that some of the Red House Report had 
become fact. 

Nazi Germany did export massive amounts of capital through neutral countries. German 
businesses did set up a network of front companies abroad. The German economy did 
soon recover after 1945. 

The Third Reich was defeated militarily, but powerful Nazi-era bankers, industrialists 
and civil servants, reborn as democrats, soon prospered in the new West Germany. There 
they worked for a new cause: European economic and political integration. 

Is it possible that the Fourth Reich those Nazi industrialists foresaw has, in some part at 
least, come to pass? 

The Red House Report was written by a French spy who was at the meeting in Strasbourg 
in 1944 - and it paints an extraordinary picture. 

The industrialists gathered at the Maison Rouge Hotel waited expectantly as SS 
Obergruppenfuhrer Dr Scheid began the meeting. Scheid held one of the highest ranks in 
the SS, equivalent to Lieutenant General. He cut an imposing figure in his tailored grey- 
green uniform and high, peaked cap with silver braiding. Guards were posted outside and 
the room had been searched for microphones. 

Death camp: Auschwitz, where tens of thousands of slave labourers died working in a 
factory run by German firm I. G. Farben 

There was a sharp intake of breath as he began to speak. German industry must realise 
that the war cannot be won, he declared. 'It must take steps in preparation for a post-war 
commercial campaign.' Such defeatist talk was treasonous - enough to earn a visit to the 
Gestapo's cellars, followed by a one-way trip to a concentration camp. 

But Scheid had been given special licence to speak the truth - the future of the Reich was 
at stake. He ordered the industrialists to 'make contacts and alliances with foreign firms, 
but this must be done individually and without attracting any suspicion'. 

The industrialists were to borrow substantial sums from foreign countries after the war. 

They were especially to exploit the finances of those German firms that had already been 
used as fronts for economic penetration abroad, said Scheid, citing the American partners 
of the steel giant Krupp as well as Zeiss, Leica and the Hamburg- America Line shipping 

But as most of the industrialists left the meeting, a handful were beckoned into another 
smaller gathering, presided over by Dr Bosse of the Armaments Ministry. There were 
secrets to be shared with the elite of the elite. 

Bosse explained how, even though the Nazi Party had informed the industrialists that the 
war was lost, resistance against the Allies would continue until a guarantee of German 
unity could be obtained. He then laid out the secret three-stage strategy for the Fourth 

In stage one, the industrialists were to 'prepare themselves to finance the Nazi Party, 
which would be forced to go underground as a Maquis', using the term for the French 

Stage two would see the government allocating large sums to German industrialists to 
establish a 'secure post-war foundation in foreign countries', while 'existing financial 
reserves must be placed at the disposal of the party so that a strong German empire can 
be created after the defeat'. 

In stage three, German businesses would set up a 'sleeper' network of agents abroad 
through front companies, which were to be covers for military research and intelligence, 
until the Nazis returned to power. 

'The existence of these is to be known only by very few people in each industry and by 
chiefs of the Nazi Party,' Bosse announced. 

'Each office will have a liaison agent with the party. As soon as the party becomes strong 
enough to re-establish its control over Germany, the industrialists will be paid for their 
effort and co-operation by concessions and orders.' 


Extraordinary revelations: The 1944 Red House Report, detailing 'plans of German 
industrialists to engage in underground activity' 

The exported funds were to be channelled through two banks in Zurich, or via agencies in 
Switzerland which bought property in Switzerland for German concerns, for a five per 
cent commission. 

The Nazis had been covertly sending funds through neutral countries for years. 

Swiss banks, in particular the Swiss National Bank, accepted gold looted from the 
treasuries of Nazi-occupied countries. They accepted assets and property titles taken from 
Jewish businessmen in Germany and occupied countries, and supplied the foreign 
currency that the Nazis needed to buy vital war materials. 

Swiss economic collaboration with the Nazis had been closely monitored by Allied 

The Red House Report's author notes: 'Previously, exports of capital by German 
industrialists to neutral countries had to be accomplished rather surreptitiously and by 
means of special influence. 

'Now the Nazi Party stands behind the industrialists and urges them to save themselves 
by getting funds outside Germany and at the same time advance the party's plans for its 
post-war operations.' 

The order to export foreign capital was technically illegal in Nazi Germany, but by the 
summer of 1944 the law did not matter. 

More than two months after D-Day, the Nazis were being squeezed by the Allies from the 
west and the Soviets from the east. Hitler had been badly wounded in an assassination 
attempt. The Nazi leadership was nervous, fractious and quarrelling. 

During the war years the SS had built up a gigantic economic empire, based on plunder 
and murder, and they planned to keep it. 

A meeting such as that at the Maison Rouge would need the protection of the SS, 
according to Dr Adam Tooze of Cambridge University, author of Wages of Destruction: 
The Making And Breaking Of The Nazi Economy. 

He says: 'By 1944 any discussion of post-war planning was banned. It was extremely 
dangerous to do that in public. But the SS was thinking in the long-term. If you are trying 
to establish a workable coalition after the war, the only safe place to do it is under the 
auspices of the apparatus of terror.' 

Shrewd SS leaders such as Otto Ohlendorf were already thinking ahead. 

As commander of Einsatzgruppe D, which operated on the Eastern Front between 1941 
and 1942, Ohlendorf was responsible for the murder of 90,000 men, women and children. 

A highly educated, intelligent lawyer and economist, Ohlendorf showed great concern for 
the psychological welfare of his extermination squad's gunmen: he ordered that several of 
them should fire simultaneously at their victims, so as to avoid any feelings of personal 

By the winter of 1943 he was transferred to the Ministry of Economics. Ohlendorf s 
ostensible job was focusing on export trade, but his real priority was preserving the SS's 
massive pan-European economic empire after Germany's defeat. 

Ohlendorf, who was later hanged at Nuremberg, took particular interest in the work of a 
German economist called Ludwig Erhard. Erhard had written a lengthy manuscript on the 
transition to a post-war economy after Germany's defeat. This was dangerous, especially 
as his name had been mentioned in connection with resistance groups. 

But Ohlendorf, who was also chief of the SD, the Nazi domestic security service, 
protected Erhard as he agreed with his views on stabilising the post-war German 
economy. Ohlendorf himself was protected by Heinrich Himmler, the chief of the SS. 

Ohlendorf and Erhard feared a bout of hyper-inflation, such as the one that had destroyed 
the German economy in the Twenties. Such a catastrophe would render the SS's 
economic empire almost worthless. 

The two men agreed that the post-war priority was rapid monetary stabilisation through a 
stable currency unit, but they realised this would have to be enforced by a friendly 
occupying power, as no post-war German state would have enough legitimacy to 
introduce a currency that would have any value. 

That unit would become the Deutschmark, which was introduced in 1948. It was an 
astonishing success and it kick-started the German economy. With a stable currency, 
Germany was once again an attractive trading partner. 

The German industrial conglomerates could rapidly rebuild their economic empires 
across Europe. 

War had been extraordinarily profitable for the German economy. By 1948 - despite six 
years of conflict, Allied bombing and post-war reparations payments - the capital stock of 
assets such as equipment and buildings was larger than in 1936, thanks mainly to the 
armaments boom. 

Erhard pondered how German industry could expand its reach across the shattered 
European continent. The answer was through supranationalism - the voluntary surrender 
of national sovereignty to an international body. 

Germany and France were the drivers behind the European Coal and Steel Community 
(ECSC), the precursor to the European Union. The ECSC was the first supranational 
organisation, established in April 1951 by six European states. It created a common 
market for coal and steel which it regulated. This set a vital precedent for the steady 
erosion of national sovereignty, a process that continues today. 

But before the common market could be set up, the Nazi industrialists had to be 
pardoned, and Nazi bankers and officials reintegrated. In 1957, John J. McCloy, the 
American High Commissioner for Germany, issued an amnesty for industrialists 
convicted of war crimes. 

The two most powerful Nazi industrialists, Alfried Krupp of Krupp Industries and 
Friedrich Flick, whose Flick Group eventually owned a 40 per cent stake in Daimler- 
Benz, were released from prison after serving barely three years. 

Krupp and Flick had been central figures in the Nazi economy. Their companies used 
slave labourers like cattle, to be worked to death. 

The Krupp company soon became one of Europe's leading industrial combines. 

The Flick Group also quickly built up a new pan-European business empire. Friedrich 
Flick remained unrepentant about his wartime record and refused to pay a single 
Deutschmark in compensation until his death in July 1972 at the age of 90, when he left a 
fortune of more than $lbillion, the equivalent of £400million at the time. 

'For many leading industrial figures close to the Nazi regime, Europe became a cover for 
pursuing German national interests after the defeat of Hitler,' says historian Dr Michael 
Pinto-Duschinsky, an adviser to Jewish former slave labourers. 

'The continuity of the economy of Germany and the economies of post-war Europe is 
striking. Some of the leading figures in the Nazi economy became leading builders of the 
European Union.' 

Numerous household names had exploited slave and forced labourers including BMW, 
Siemens and Volkswagen, which produced munitions and the VI rocket. 

Slave labour was an integral part of the Nazi war machine. Many concentration camps 
were attached to dedicated factories where company officials worked hand-in-hand with 
the SS officers overseeing the camps. 

Like Krupp and Flick, Hermann Abs, post-war Germany's most powerful banker, had 
prospered in the Third Reich. Dapper, elegant and diplomatic, Abs joined the board of 
Deutsche Bank, Germany's biggest bank, in 1937. As the Nazi empire expanded, 
Deutsche Bank enthusiastically Aryanised' Austrian and Czechoslovak banks that were 
owned by Jews. 

By 1942, Abs held 40 directorships, a quarter of which were in countries occupied by the 
Nazis. Many of these Aryanised companies used slave labour and by 1943 Deutsche 
Bank's wealth had quadrupled. 

Abs also sat on the supervisory board of I.G Farben, as Deutsche Bank's representative. 
I.G. Farben was one of Nazi Germany's most powerful companies, formed out of a union 
of BASF, Bayer, Hoechst and subsidiaries in the Twenties. 

It was so deeply entwined with the SS and the Nazis that it ran its own slave labour camp 
at Auschwitz, known as Auschwitz III, where tens of thousands of Jews and other 
prisoners died producing artificial rubber. 

When they could work no longer, or were verbraucht (used up) in the Nazis' chilling 
term, they were moved to Birkenau. There they were gassed using Zyklon B, the patent 
for which was owned by I.G. Farben. 

But like all good businessmen, I.G. Farben's bosses hedged their bets. 

During the war the company had financed Ludwig Erhard's research. After the war, 24 
I.G. Farben executives were indicted for war crimes over Auschwitz III - but only twelve 
of the 24 were found guilty and sentenced to prison terms ranging from one-and-a-half to 
eight years. I.G. Farben got away with mass murder. 

Abs was one of the most important figures in Germany's post-war reconstruction. It was 
largely thanks to him that, just as the Red House Report exhorted, a 'strong German 
empire' was indeed rebuilt, one which formed the basis of today's European Union. 

Abs was put in charge of allocating Marshall Aid - reconstruction funds - to German 
industry. By 1948 he was effectively managing Germany's economic recovery. 

Crucially, Abs was also a member of the European League for Economic Co-operation, 
an elite intellectual pressure group set up in 1946. The league was dedicated to the 
establishment of a common market, the precursor of the European Union. 

Its members included industrialists and financiers and it developed policies that are 
strikingly familiar today - on monetary integration and common transport, energy and 
welfare systems. 

When Konrad Adenauer, the first Chancellor of West Germany, took power in 1949, Abs 
was his most important financial adviser. 

Behind the scenes Abs was working hard for Deutsche Bank to be allowed to reconstitute 
itself after decentralisation. In 1957 he succeeded and he returned to his former employer. 

That same year the six members of the ECSC signed the Treaty of Rome, which set up 
the European Economic Community. The treaty further liberalised trade and established 
increasingly powerful supranational institutions including the European Parliament and 
European Commission. 

Like Abs, Ludwig Erhard flourished in post-war Germany. Adenauer made Erhard 
Germany's first post-war economics minister. In 1963 Erhard succeeded Adenauer as 
Chancellor for three years. 

But the German economic miracle - so vital to the idea of a new Europe - was built on 
mass murder. The number of slave and forced labourers who died while employed by 
German companies in the Nazi era was 2,700,000. 

Some sporadic compensation payments were made but German industry agreed a 
conclusive, global settlement only in 2000, with a £3billion compensation fund. There 
was no admission of legal liability and the individual compensation was paltry. 

A slave labourer would receive 15,000 Deutschmarks (about £5,000), a forced labourer 
5,000 (about £1,600). Any claimant accepting the deal had to undertake not to launch any 
further legal action. 

To put this sum of money into perspective, in 2001 Volkswagen alone made profits of 

Next month, 27 European Union member states vote in the biggest transnational election 
in history. Europe now enjoys peace and stability. Germany is a democracy, once again 
home to a substantial Jewish community. The Holocaust is seared into national memory. 

But the Red House Report is a bridge from a sunny present to a dark past. Joseph 
Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda chief, once said: In 50 years' time nobody will think of 
nation states.' 

For now, the nation state endures. But these three typewritten pages are a reminder that 
today's drive towards a European federal state is inexorably tangled up with the plans of 
the SS and German industrialists for a Fourth Reich - an economic rather than military 

• The Budapest Protocol, Adam LeBor's thriller inspired by the Red House Report, is 
published by Reportage Press.